Andrew Lang – Momentary Senses (Rusted Tone, 2020)

I’ve started having strange and vivid dreams again after a reprieve over the Christmas period. The blame of course lies with work and lockdown restrictions, manifesting I assume through the anxieties of circumstance and creative drought of the home-prison. Whilst they’ve been quite potent, I forget almost all of them come the afternoon, but sometimes particularly notable dreams persist in thought.

Last week I had one that was especially lingering: I was back at my old school, there to say hello to, and surprise one of, my old teachers, someone who had a huge impact on my education and help foster my love of Geology. After a fashion I snuck into his class and said something to him to get his attention: he paused and when he turned round his face was filled with confusion but also happiness, and after the initial shock we shook hands firmly and greeted each other. It was so real: I can see the genuine look on his face and feel the exchanged hands, the air exuding a sort of gleefully reunited excitement.

In the same dream I also bumped into a girl, someone I recall being a couple of years above me and someone I haven’t seen or thought about in over ten years. I don’t remember her name, but I remember the particularities of her face and the distinct way she kept her red hair; obviously, since I was the one doing the dreaming. I thought about that encounter all day too: she was beautiful and her hair stood out in the blurred crowds just as it caught your eye in real lie, but of all the people I’ve ever met or known, why was she there?

I mulled them both over a lot, turning the experience over in my mind to try and make sense of it, to try and re-live it. A fleeting event but one of such distinctness, one born from my own subconscious but so very real all the same. Strange, fragile, transient, beautiful. Real feelings in an invented dream in an unreal time.

I realise this will only make sense to me (whatever that means), but I’d been thinking of that dream a lot and wanted to talk about it because Andrew’s Momentary SensesĀ made me think about this notion of dreamy, elegant, ephemeral encounters, particularly at a time like this where it feels like dreams hold refuge against reality.

Here is a place where the lightest touches expand their brevity and balloon their significance, where piano forms the intrinsic core of his work again, but mostly we find ourselves carried in gossamer drones and suspended ambiences. Intimate airs are everything: fingers rocking on the piano keys; homely creakings and groanings; suggestions of distant birdsong, or field recordings of familiar places. Here he crafts a space that captures the preciousness and specificity of memorable personal moments, delicate and diffuse such as they are, and sets them on their own haunting path shrouded in wist and remembrance and the preciseness which evades ever being recaptured.

I wonder, when others listen to Momentary Senses, where will it take them? Will they be reminded of a curious dream, or taken back to some chance encounter, or think fondly of some random taken-for-granted moment before this? I don’t know, but then again, I don’t even know the machinations of my own mind apparently.